CITROËN is on the comeback trail in South Africa after a wholly-owned subsidiary was established here at the beginning of 2010 by its French parent.

Instead of CITROËN products being imported and marketed by an independent agent, as was the case in the recent past, the future of the brand is now far brighter with the full backing of CITROËN in France and an expanding range of state-of-the-art products served by a dedicated dealer network.

It has been a tough time to establish a new dealer network and institute corporate operational procedures at the dealers as it has all happened as South Africa has been in a recovery phase after the global financial crisis.

The new company is very aware that it will be judged by its actions in terms of customer relations and satisfaction levels, not only by the product range it has on offer. It is for this reason that an inordinate amount of time and effort is being spent on ensuring top class after-sales service.

The senior management team is very aware that it not only has to sort out any practical challenges, but it must eradicate the perception that its after-sales back-up is not up to the levels of some of its competitors.

The company is taking serious steps to change all this with the general manager of parts, service and training, Eric Moll, taking personal control of the project.

“Our task is to provide a level of after sales service that is relevant to the South African consumer and which will build confidence in CITROËN vehicles and their cost of ownership,” explained Moll. ‘To achieve these goals we are applying a combination of proactive steps and continuous measurement, utilising the CITROËN global service quality index as a benchmark.

“We have already made huge strides in improving our parts supply rate, ensuring our parts pricing is competitive and training our dealer staff. Our efficiency levels have improved at the Linbro Park parts warehouse, which holds R35-million worth of parts. An average first time parts picking rate of 92,7% has contributed to customer satisfaction rating improvements.”

Another key in CITROËN’s strategy to grow its sales and market share is the dealer network as they are the company’s first line in terms of interaction with customers. Currently there are 14 full dealers, and three servicing agents located at major centres, including one in Namibia.

The impressive visual standards that Citroën is prescribing for its dealers, in line with the fresh new international corporate identity, together with the growing range of cars and light commercials are going a long way to put the company on the path to become a meaningful player in the South African automotive market.